OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - The Opelika campus of Southern Union State Community College is about to undergo some significant changes and today marks the beginning of the $32 million project that has been four years in the making.
With the enrollment of nearly 4,200 students on the Opelika campus, parking has been a concern of both students and administrators.
"Parking is probably the hardest thing to do on this campus. Every time you come to class and you don't have an 8 AM, you're not going to find parking anywhere," explains Southern Union student, James Heath.
Phase I of the plan will add an addition 764 parking spaces by tearing out the existing track, and creating a new walking trail.
Two new entrances to the campus will also be constructed to alleviate traffic on US Highway 431.
"Because there is a walking trail used by the community a great deal, we're going to put a walking trail on the backside of campus that will go 1/4 of a mile," states Southern Union President, Dr. Amelia Pearson.
Phase II of the improvement project will feature construction of two state of the art buildings, a new Center for Integrated Manufacturing and a Business and Technology Center fulfilling the need for more classrooms and computer labs.
The business and technology center will also house a storm shelter that is designed to be open 24/7 to employees, students, and citizens of Opelika.
"Some colleges have fees that are passed on to students that are for building projects specifically and are only charged till that project is paid for, but we're not asking for any increases in fees for our students," explains Pearson.
The final aspect of the project will be the creation of a pedestrian green space that will tie all the improvements together and give the campus a more collegiate feel.
Phase I will be completed August 1, 2013 and the schedule calls for the entire project to be finished in 2015.